Thursday, January 26, 2017

Of Paper, Files, Age and Advice

 At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, or anyway, oldI wonder if many other writers, like me, simply love paper? Is it my age? I love any and all kinds of paper, from note cards to newsprint to the inside of novels. Magazines, legal pads, sticky notes, newsletters. Copy paper, composition books, coloring books, coupons, cards. 

And, I hoard paper and paper products. If you're an overnight guest in my house and you discover at the last moment that you need a notebook to bring to an early morning meeting, I've got you covered. In five sizes, three shapes, four colors. Serious looking ones, whimsical, slim, fat, cheap, or lush. Lined, unlined, white, yellow, flimsy, sturdy. With or without a place to stow the pen. Ones you can lose and I won't care, and those that mean something (okay, I won't loan those out anyway, but you get the idea).

But the biggest stash of hoarded papers are the ones I "need" as a writer. I keep pages clipped from newspapers and magazines because there's an image or article of interest, and I keep all my own notes, and I keep paper copies of anything I've written and published. 

When I have an idea for a piece of writing, it may begin in a paper notebook, or on the computer screen, but eventually, a paper file folder begins to fill with notes, research, related materials, and always, lists (possible places to submit it; research to be done; title ideas, etc.). Polished revisions and really shitty first drafts.

It all piles up. And when one accumulates a lot of paper files, the need arises for a...filing cabinet.

In the big home office-makeover (already three or so years ago by now), I placed two tall, three-drawer dark wooden ones side by side within arm's length of my chair. A few weeks ago, I asked my husband to stop by Ikea and pick up a matching one-drawer unit. It actually holds more than one drawer's worth of files, because it's a good six inches deeper than the others. Plus there's the bonus of a small drawer at the top for office miscellany, a help since I banished my old desk in favor of a large but drawer-less table. 

I know - this isn't very interesting and maybe more about old habits than writing. Except that, while emptying an overflowing cardboard box of paper (!) and sorting it into the new filing unit, I came across some random items that don't really go anywhere but that I'd been obviously saving for--well for something, I'm sure. Probably a blog post, or to pass along to a student or coaching client. 

Anyway, those random scraps held good advice, good enough to pass along. Here's what I found:

- Scribbled notes from an ASJA conference two (or more?) years ago that included these:

from Susan Shapiro on writing personal essays that sell to mainstream media: 

"Get in late and get out early.  Keep the camera rolling. When rejected, see if it needs revision, then find a more friendly editor."

and from editor/author Daniel Menaker: 

"In memoir, it all lies in the voice. Yours has to be a voice that is self-surprising, not self-promoting."

- A scribbled note with no attribution from who knows when or where. I've seen/heard this a lot, and maybe you have too, but it's probably worth repeating: "A page a day is a book a year."

I need to go write my page now instead of fooling with more paper.
  
The other scraps of paper will make it into a future blog post. Meanwhile, are you a paper lover?



1 comment:

Linda Johnson said...

Yes! I have so much paper, so many notebooks,filled and unfilled, so many notecards, post-its, etc., etc., etc. I don't think I could ever get it organized. Yet this leads to so many happy surprises when I rediscover tidbits and advice that I had forgotten about! I love your Friday Fridge Clean-Out entries!